July is UV Safety Month
No matter your profession, you are probably exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation every day. Even people who spend most of their time indoors still receive exposure when they commute, go outside to check their mail, or walk from the car to the store. As a health care provider or educator, it is especially important to be aware of the risk and help to raise awareness in others.
Did you know the most common type of cancer is skin cancer, which is primarily caused by exposure to UV radiation? Most UV exposure is from the sun, but people can also be exposed in tanning beds. In addition to causing skin damage UV rays also damage the eyes.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
People who spend a great deal of time outdoors will obviously have a higher risk of developing skin cancer it is more common in people who have:
- Blond hair
- Blue eyes
- Family history of skin cancer
- Green eyes
- History of indoor tanning
- History of sunburns
- Light skin and freckles
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Red hair
Prevent Skin Cancer
There are several things people can do to reduce their exposure to UV rays and at the same time help prevent skin cancer.
- Apply sunscreen with a rating of SPF 15 or higher 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply throughout the day
- Avoid indoor tanning
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Perform self-exams regularly
- Seek shade when outdoors
- Wear long sleeves and a hat when outdoors
- Wear sunglasses that wrap completely around the eye and block UVB and UVA rays
Depending on an individual’s risk factors it may also be advisable to have skin checked annually by a dermatologist.
How to Help
In addition to following the safety tips outlined above you can raise community awareness in a number of ways.
Sponsor a Tree Planting Event – Plant trees in an area that can be enjoyed by employees, partner with the city to plant new trees near bus stops, in parks, near schools or on other public land to provide shade for the community. Be sure everyone wears sunscreen during the planting!
Post Safety Tips – Make a list of sun safety tips to post around your office and to give to clients.
Demonstrate – Inquire with local dermatologists to find one who is willing to provide demonstrations to staff members on how to properly complete a skin self-exam.
If you are looking for more great ways to promote UV awareness visit Sun Wise. This is a partnership program with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has a wealth of information and resources for schools, individuals, and community leaders.
How will you increase your UV safety, help raise awareness for your business associates, or help spread the message to your community?